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The Many Influences of Abner Mares…AVILA

David A. Avila

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Abner_Mares_shadow_box_by_KatThe first time I met Abner Mares he had competed in the 2004 Olympics in Greece, just turned 18 and was at the new Golden Boy Promotions headquarters with two other youngsters seeking to become world champions.

That was in December 2004 and Mares signed a contract to fight for the company owned by East L.A. fighting legend Oscar De La Hoya.

Since that time he’s worked with a variety of famed boxing trainers and now hopes to put all of their wisdom together when he fights IBF bantamweight titleholder Joseph “King Kong” Agbeko (28-2, 22 KOs) on Aug. 13 at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. It’s the finals of the Showtime Bantamweight Tournament.

Mares (21-0-1, 13 KOs) has worked with Joe Hernandez, Floyd Mayweather Sr., Nacho Beristain, Joel Diaz and now Clemente Medina. All are renowned for their ability to groom world champions. But sometimes going from one trainer to another can be more confusing than advantageous.

Then there are some boxers that soak up knowledge like a sponge and are very capable of bringing it all together.

Mares, now 25, talks a little about what all of those famed trainers brought to the table.

The Trainers

“I learned a lot from all of them,” says Mares.

From Hernandez, who also trained former world champion Daniel Ponce De Leon, he learned intense physical training.

“He really got a fighter into condition,” Mares said.

From Mayweather, who also trained multi world champion Oscar De La Hoya, he learned the importance of defense and speed.

“He likes to work on rapid punches and head movement,” Mares said of Mayweather. “He also instills in you a sense of cockiness. He makes you believe you are the best.”

With Beristain, a Mexico City-based trainer who guides world champion Juan Manuel Marquez and many others, Mares says he learned technique and repetition.

“He drills in you that for every punch another fighter throws there is a counter move,” Mares said of Beristain. “He makes you work on punch technique over and over.”

Recently Mares lived in Coachella where he worked under Diaz.

“Because he’s young still, Joel (Diaz) has so much energy,” said Mares about Diaz. “The whole gym has a lot of energy and there is always loud music and great fighters to spar. I even sparred with Timothy Bradley.”

Now Mares trainers under the guidance of Clemente Medina, who formerly guided Daniel Ponce De Leon and Alfredo “Perro” Angulo, among many others.

“Clemente doesn’t try to change me at all,” says Mares who traveled with Medina to Guadalajara for three weeks at the beginning of training camp. “He even likes me to use the stuff the other trainers taught me…he’ll say ‘throw the Juan Manuel Marquez combination’ (jab, left hook, uppercut and body shot with the left hook).

Despite all of the changes in trainers Golden Boy Promotions has remained staunchly behind the Montebello, California resident.

“He’s very important to us,” said Eric Gomez, vice president and matchmaker for Golden Boy Promotions. “Abner was one of the first amateur fighters we signed.”

The fighter Mares reminds me most of his Mexico’s Marco Antonio Barrera, who could slug it out or box an opponent out of his shoes.

Another influence on Mares has been the “Golden Boy” himself, De La Hoya.

“Oscar has always brought it up that I was his first fighter from scratch,” says Mares, who is managed by Frank Espinoza. “All the people at Golden Boy are like family to me.”

During Mares’ fight with Vic Darchinyan in the state of Washington a Golden Boy Promotions fight card was occurring in Las Vegas. When Mares was knocked down early in the fight Golden Boy vice president Eric Gomez was sullen as he heard the news. A half hour later he was jumping up and down from the announcement that Mares had won by split decision.

I had never seen that before.

Mares believes that his long successful road through various trainers and pit stops has brought him to this point.

“All of these great trainers have helped me get to this point,” Mares said. “I’ve learned so much over the years.”

Boxing influence

Now Mares is guided by Medina where he prepares at Elite Mixed Martial Arts Academy located in Santa Fe Springs. On a daily basis his sparring sessions are watched by the dozens of MMA practitioners anxious to witness an elite boxer.

“It’s kind of cool,” says Mares. “I’ve never had people just drop by and watch me train before.”

Owner Steve Rodarte says that many of his students are wrestlers who want to become MMA fighters. He insists that the wrestlers learn boxing which puzzles them at first.

“Once they see someone like Abner Mares in the ring doing what he does then they understand,” says Rodarte. “They’ll be training and as soon as Abner begins sparring they’ll stop to watch. It helps them understand how an elite fighter looks.”

Fights on television

Fri. ESPN2, 6 pm., Tim Coleman (19-1-1) vs. Vernon Paris (24-0).
Sat. pay-per-view, 6 p.m., UFC 133 Rashad Evans (20-1-1) vs. Tito Ortiz (17-8-1);
Victor Belfort (19-9) vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama (13-3)

 

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 76: Welterweights Vergil, Terence and More

David A. Avila

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In the words of many boxing journalists, fighters, trainers and promoters “styles make fights,” and those differences can lead to unpredictable outcomes. The weekend brings a few stylish welterweights on display from California to New York.

Welterweight ingénue Vergil Ortiz Jr. (14-0, 14 KOs) enters the world of unpredictability when he meets Brad Solomon (28-1, 9 KOs) a swift-moving veteran on Friday, Dec. 13, at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, Calif. DAZN will show the loaded Golden Boy Promotions fight card.

It’s Ortiz’s third year as a professional and fifth time performing at the Indio casino. It’s also where he made his pro debut back in July 2016 when he began his remarkable string of 14 consecutive knockout wins.

Solomon, 36, has made a career of fighting pressure fighters and making them miss or defusing their power. Only Russia’s Konstantin Ponomarev, who was trained at the time by Abel Sanchez, was able to hang a loss on the Georgia fighter’s ledger.

Can Ortiz handle the style difference?

“Vergil can do more than people think,” said Vergil Ortiz Sr., father of the lanky welterweight slugger. “He can box any style.”

As a professional, Ortiz has yet to fight someone like Solomon with his juke and move style of fighting. As an amateur he did face speedsters like Ryan Garcia. As a pro, this will mark his first in the prize ring. It should be interesting.

Power Packed Support

Knockout artist Ortiz leads a power packed-boxing card that includes a number of Golden Boy’s best knockout punchers like Bektemir Melikuziev, Alberto Machado and Luis Feliciano. All of these guys can punch and are looking to put the cap on 2019.

That’s a lot of firepower.

But also on the card is someone fighting for 360 Promotions named Serhii Bohachuk, otherwise known as “El Flaco.” Just like Ortiz, Bohachuk has never allowed the final bell to be rung against 16 foes so far. He is going for 17 when he fights Carlos Galvan (17-9-1) in a super welterweight fight set for eight rounds. Don’t expect to hear the final bell whenever the Ukrainian trained by Mexican style coach Abel Sanchez gets in the ring.

Bohachuk could be following in the footsteps of another guy formerly trained by Abel Sanchez named Gennady Golovkin. It’s still too early, but he looks pretty good so far.

New York City

Top welterweight Terence Crawford (35-0, 26 KOs) defends the WBO welterweight title against Lithuania’s Egidijus “Mean Machine” Kavaliauskas (21-0-1, 17 KOs) on Saturday, Dec. 14, at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan. ESPN will televise the Top Rank card.

In the crowded and talented world of the welterweights, Crawford could very well be the best of them all. If only he could prove it. The Omaha-Nebraska prizefighter has tried every enticement possible to lure Errol Spence Jr., Danny “Swift” Garcia, Shawn Porter and Manny Pacquiao. Nothing works.

What does work for Crawford has been a reputation as one of the best prizefighters in the world pound for pound. Some tab him as the very best especially when it comes to speed, agility and the ability to innovate on the spot. He has few peers.

Facing Crawford will be Kavaliauskas who trains in Oxnard with a number of Eastern Europeans including Vasyl Lomachenko. They share the same management. He’s never faced anyone close in talent to Crawford. Except, maybe inside of his own gym.

“I’m not focused on no other opponent besides the opponent that’s in front of me. My goal is to make sure I get the victory come this weekend, and that’s the only person I’m focused on now,” said Crawford. “Anyone else is talk. It goes in one ear and out the other. He’s young, hungry and I’m not taking him lightly.”

Crawford has been chasing stardom for a number of years. What better place than New York City’s Madison Square Garden to showcase his skills to the public. At age 32, Crawford is running out of sand.

Lightweight Title Fight

The co-main event on Saturday at Madison Square Garden features IBF lightweight titlist Richard Commey (29-2, 26 KOs) defending against wunderkind Teofimo Lopez (14-0, 11 KOs).

But this weekend truly belongs to the welterweights.

Next Week

Southern California will be packed with boxing. It’s a last gasp before the end of 2019.

Ontario, California will be hosting a very large Premier Boxing Champions fight card at the Toyota Center on Saturday Dec. 21.

WBC super welterweight titlist Tony Harrison finally defends against Jermall Charlo in a rematch and it won’t be friendly. These guys hate each other.

“He’s fake,” said Harrison when they last met in Los Angeles for a press conference.

It won’t be pretty when they meet next week.

Tickets are on sale. Go to this link for more information: https://www.toyota-arena.com/events/detail/premier-boxing-champions

Fights to Watch

Fri. DAZN 4:30 p.m. Vergil Ortiz (14-0) vs Brad Solomon (28-1); Serhii Bohachuk (16-0) vs Carlos Galvan (17-9-1).

Sat. Facebook 5 p.m. Diego De La Hoya (21-1) vs Renson Robles (16-6).

Sat. ESPN 6 p.m. Terence Crawford (35-0) vs Egidijus Kaviliauskas (21-0-1); Teofimo Lopez (14-0) vs Richard Commey (29-2).

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel 

To comment on this story in The Fight Forum CLICK HERE

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A Toast to Busy Bee Emanuel Navarrete, a Fighter from the Old School

Ted Sares

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In the last 12 months, super bantamweight Emanuel “Vaquero” Navarrete has fought five times. That’s close to Old School-type activity.

No one in Mexico gave Navarette much notice until he stopped Luis Bedolla Orozco (18-2) in Guadalajara in 2017. He turned more heads when he KO’d Filipino veteran Glenn Porras in January 2018 and fans outside Mexico began to take serious note of this no-nonsense youngster (now just 24) when he stopped Columbia’s “El General” Jose Sanmartin (26-4-1) five months later.

That win, his eighth straight by stoppage, earned him an interim belt and opened the door to a world title shot. It came on Dec. 8, 2018 at Madison Square Garden against undefeated (20-0) WBO world super bantamweight champion Isaac “Royal Storm” Dogboe.

Navarrete, five inches taller at 5’7”, shocked the hard-punching Brit (by way of Ghana) to win a decision and become the new champion. The scores were 115-113, 116-112, and 116-112, but more to the point, Dogboe’s post-fight face looked like it had gone through the proverbial meat grinder. The tall Mexican had fought tall and picked the much smaller Dogboe apart with precise and pinpoint punching.

The rematch proved that Emanuel’s first win was no fluke as he showed late round power in stopping Dogboe in the 12th. He again used his height advantage, showed great stamina and strength, was accurate with his punches, and once again the too-short Dogboe’s face looked like he was on the wrong end of a big city mugging.

His first title defense came against Francisco De Vaca (20-0) who is a fixture at the Celebrity Theater in Phoenix, Arizona. This one lasted three rounds as Vaquero (“cowboy” in English) used a neat uppercut to stun De Vaca in the second and then rendered a terrible beating in the third to end the fight—one that should have been halted earlier by referee Raul Caiz Sr. who seemed far more “brave” than the fighters.

On September 14, 2019, Navarrete used his signature wide left hooks and uppercuts to end matters in the middle of the third round against Juan Miguel Elorde (28-1). Juan Miguel, the grandson of Filipino boxing legend Gabriel “Flash” Elorde, made the mistake of engaging Navarrete in a firefight and lost. This one took place at the T Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and boxing fans now knew who this tall super bantamweight was.

In his most recent fight — this one in Mexico — Navarrete put on another display of accurate power punching to stop Francisco Horta (20-3-1) at 2.09 of round 4. After a somewhat typical slow start, Navarrete found his groove and began serious stalking, using looping combinations at strange angles inside and outside, finally catching Horta on the ropes in the fourth, ending matters with stunning closure. It was his 25th straight win dating back to 2012 when he was defeated by one Daniel Argueta by a 4-round decision.

Navarrete, one of seven current Mexican world title-holders, is now looking to unify at 122. He also might be interested in fighting Naoya Inoue if “Monster” moves up in weight, and given Inoue’s recent fight with Nonito Donaire in which he showed that he is human after all, this one could be a sizzler.

As to his chances for “Fighter of the Year,” they are probably slim, but that has nothing to do with whether he deserves it and everything to do with poor public relations. Yes, a solid case can be made for Josh Warrington, but enough with the Canelo, Loma, Usyk types who fight twice a year.

Emanuel Navarrete is more active than any other title-holder or top contender and has a KO percentage of 84% despite the fact that his last five opponents had a combined record of 108-5-1 coming in. And he has a fan-friendly style, stalking, stunning, and closing his opponents with controlled violence. In many respects, he fights like a pre-scandal and prime Antonio Margarito, except he is more technically sound. The fact is, Vaquero, the pride of San Juan Zitlaltepec, is super exciting and doesn’t seem to have any noticeable weaknesses.

Ted Sares can be reached at tedsares@roadrunner.com

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel 

To comment on this story in The Fight Forum CLICK HERE

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NEWS FLASH: Leon Spinks Hospitalized; Reportedly Fighting for His Life

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The gossip site TMZ is reporting that Leon Spinks is hospitalized in Las Vegas and is fighting for his life. TMZ acquired this information from Spinks’ wife Brenda Glur Spinks after spying her social media post. “It’s been a tough year for us,” she wrote. “Leon has endured a lot of medical problems. I’m reaching to ask that you pray for my Beautiful Husband Leon. So that he may overcome the obstacles that crossed his path.”

Her sentiment was echoed by Leon’s son Leon Spinks III who posted this message on his facebook page: “My Dad isn’t doing so good now and his wife Brenda Glur Spinks and I ask that u pray that he weather’s this storm. My dad is all I have left and I really appreciate it if yall let God know that he is not in this battle alone.”

A gold medal winner at the 1976 Olympics, Spinks, 66, is best remembered for upsetting Muhammad Ali in 1978 to win the world heavyweight title. He lost the title back to Ali in his next fight.

This is a developing story. As new details emerge, we will share them with you.

To comment on this story in The Fight Forum CLICK HERE

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